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Who was John Edmond?

Research and Expeditions

Francis Albarede, President of the European Association of Geochemistry said, "A scientist can be extremely proud if by the end of his life he had contributed one idea that changed the human perception of the world. John Edmond left us with several of these."

Born in Glasgow Scotland, and a MIT faculty member since 1970, John Edmond was a major figure in chemical oceanography who studied ocean and river chemical cycles and composition. He conducted pioneer work in oceanic particulate matter, trace elements and isotopes. He also came up with an explanation of where unaccounted for carbon dioxide from fossil fuels goes that was based on his ocean research.

As one source describes, he was known for his untraditional descriptions of his research. In a 1982 expedition to the Sea of Cortez, he described the vents they discovered as reminding him of "Japanese pagodas with several roofs coming out of them. They are completely covered with large tube worms and thick mats of yellow-orange bacteria."Professor Edmond also described the smell of the site as "like putting your nose into a diesel oil tank."

Why Edmond Vents were named after John Edmond - Excerpt from Crew Journal

Since all newly discovered places deserve an honorable title, we have named the Central Indian Ridge hydrothermal vent site we discovered for geochemist John Marmion Edmond, one of the first scientists to identify and explore hydrothermal vents on the globe-encircling chain of underwater mountains known as the mid-ocean ridge The 1977 discovery near the Galapagos Island pioneered hydrothermal vent expeditions in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and now, the Indian Ocean.

Central Indian Ridge expedition member Bob Collier, one of John's former graduate students, describes his professor as "a fiery-haired man with matching energy." John moved from Scotland to the United States in the late 1960's to study at Scripps Institution of Oceanography before becoming a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

John was 57 years old when he died earlier this month in Massachusetts.

Imaginative and intelligent, the winner of several geochemistry awards and the father of two sons, "he approached everything in life with a real passion. I really looked up to him," said Bob, who began his chemistry studies under John's guidance in 1971 as a freshman at MIT.

Bob was with John that February 1977 evening when John surfaced in Alvin after his discovery dive at the hydrothermal vent site, located between the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.

"He was pumped, so excited," said Bob. John's geochemical expertise and enthusiasm for ocean chemistry also influenced chemist Karen Von Damm, who is studying the Central Indian Ridge site located near 2352'S.

One of her favorite memories of John is eating sandwiches and cookies while seated in Alvin at a black smoker chimney on the East Pacific Rise, just before they were to begin their research. "We had this smoker booming outside the window and we were inside eating peanut butter sandwiches like we were at a Victorian picnic," said Karen.

Scientists discovered the Edmond site on Friday night. We spent the weekend exploring this remarkable environment, mapping the seafloor around the vents, studying the gushing black smoker chimneys and identifying vent organisms.

The Edmond site is only the second active hydrothermal vent site explored on the Central Indian Ridge.

"It just seemed natural," Bob said "to name this place for John."

April 22, 2001 By Amy Nevala - Excerpt from Journal of Crew Exploring Edmond Vent System

Honors and Degrees

Professor Edmond was a Fellow of the Royal Society, as well as of the American Geophysical Union. He was a recipient of AGU's Macelwane Medal, and he received the Harold Urey Medal of the European Association of Geochemistry and Geochemical Society. He served on the editorial boards for Earth and Planetary Science Letters, the Geochemical Journal (Japan) and Chemical Geology/Isotope Geochemistry. In addition he served on the RIDGE Steering Committee in the Geosciences and Astronomy division of the Royal Society.

Professor Edmond received the BSc degree from the University of Glasgow in 1965 and the PhD degree in 1970 from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

-April 19, 2001 MIT News


1.April 22, 2001 By Amy Nevala - Excerpt from Journal of Crew Exploring Edmond Vent System:
2.April 19, 2001 MIT News

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